Autistic boy is given special access to favourite rollercoaster because he’s too short to ride it


Tom Stokes is a 12-year-old autistic boy who loves rollercoasters.

For the past few months, he’s been measuring his height every day to see if he meets the 4ft 6in (1.4m) height restriction on the one ride he really wants to go on.

‘Saw The Ride’, a 30-metre high attraction at Thorpe Park.

He’s spent hours watching the carriages whiz past as they ascend in preparation for the 100ft (30.5m) drop.

Despite not being tall enough to ride it, Tom visits the park with his family who live in Surrey – a mere 20 minute walk from the park – up to 100 times per year.

So, the kind folks at the theme park decided to invite Tom for his very own special, behind-the-scenes access to the ride.


Staff at Thorpe Park let Tom, his dad Daniel and mum Janis into the park 30 minutes before the official opening time.

Due to the safety standards in place, he still wasn’t allowed to ride the Saw, but Tom was able to watch the team test the carts and see them go for their first round of the day.

‘He absolutely loved it, he really enjoyed it,’ said Daniel.

‘Tom wants to be a rollercoaster engineer when he is older, and he was chatting to the ride operator who told him how fast they go and how tall the ride is.

‘He’s normally quite shy, but when we got home you couldn’t stop him talking about it.’


The youngster, who was diagnosed with autism at age three, has a mark on his bedroom door at home showing how tall he has to be to go on the thrilling ride – and measures himself next to it every morning.

Daniel said: ‘When he is watching the rollercoasters as they go up and then go over the top, you can tell he is really enjoying it from the look in his eyes.

‘His autism is very sensory and when stands there watching the ride, it seems he can feel it as if he is on it.’


‘I don’t mind going there and standing with him.

‘If my wife comes, sometimes I have to go on it for him while he watches me floating around up there, close to chundering many times.

‘He can watch it for hours, then we wander around and he asks if we can go to Saw again.’

Thorpe Park staff have promised the family that Tom will be the first rider of the day as soon as he is tall enough.

Neil Poulter, operations director at the theme park, said: ‘We’re delighted to hear what a big fan Tom is of Saw The Ride.

‘He’s not far away from being the 1.4 metres needed to experience it for himself.

‘As soon as he reaches this milestone, we’d love to have him back here at Thorpe Park Resort to be the first rider of the day, so he can finally enjoy the rollercoaster he’s admired for so long.’

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